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The Aesthetics of StrangenessEccentricity and Madness in Early Modern Japan$
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W. Puck Brecher

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780824836665

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824836665.001.0001

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Strange Tastes

Strange Tastes

Cultural Eccentricity and Its Vanguard

(p.57) Chapter 3 Strange Tastes
The Aesthetics of Strangeness

W. Puck Brecher

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter identifies an escalating attraction to strangeness that fundamentally differed from the isolated cases of aesthetic reclusion evident in the seventeenth century. It examines how the cultural field moved toward tolerance and inclusivity that afforded certain talented individuals considerable latitude to establish eccentricity as a legitimate moral force. However, not all succeeded in such efforts. The chapter begins by demonstrating how certain members of Bashō's Shōmon School failed to inherit and sustain the master's aesthetics of strangeness. It then discusses a sampling of bunjin, including some of early modern Japan's most celebrated individualists, who brought energy and prestige to this growing culture of eccentricity. It considers how the first two generations of eccentric artists (flourishing in the mid- and late eighteenth century) positioned themselves as a cultural vanguard that challenged the rigidity and conformity characteristic of Tokugawa life.

Keywords:   strangeness, tolerance, inclusivity, Basho, Shomon School, eccentricity, Tokugawa period

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